Police Reform in Cleveland: 100 Years Project
The CPC’s 100 Year Project documents the history of policing and police reform in Cleveland from 1922 to the present. Follow our timeline starting in Cleveland in the 1920s, or see past reform recommendations made by policing topic. This is an ongoing project and we encourage all interested individuals and organizations to join us in expanding on this research.
Community & Problem Oriented Policing (CPOP)
Community and Problem Oriented Policing is a major component of the 2015 Consent Decree. There have been many recommendations in the past for community policing reforms, this includes the debate around the use of police mini-stations (storefront stations).
The police relying on citizen input to help address crime is as old as policing. One major innovation initiated by Eliot Ness was to go into troubled communities and ask them what they needed from police, as he famously did when he met with young people in Tremont and asked them what they wanted from policing. They needed jobs and better access to recreation, providing these and improving social welfare services were the reasons why juvenile delinquency dropped substantially during his tenure.
Building community confidence is essential for community policing to work, so efforts made to do this are not wasted. Establishing an environment where everyone, especially minorities, want to work with police officers is essential to effective policing. This was emphasised by the US Commission on Civil Rights in 1967, and again by Mayor Michael White’s Minority Recruitment Task force in 1997. This is again emphasised in the 2015 Consent Decree.
Citizens also have to see officers and have opportunities to interact with them in a positive way. The CPOP Plan outlines the current proposed reforms, but the discussion on how to get officers and citizens to regularly interact has been debated from the beginning. A key debate has been how to make officers accessible; the 1922 Survey first recommended the idea of mini-stations as a way to maintain interactions between officers should the city follow the Survey’s recommendation to consolidate police stations.
Ness implemented this recommendation in the late 1930s, cutting down the number of police precincts from 17 to 6; the reason was that the larger number of precincts meant that they were disorganized, prone to disputes about jurisdiction, and made police corruption easier. Similar problems were observed when Mini-stations were introduced in the 1980s, only adding that they were now involved in neighborhood politics, according to a report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Despite these problems, many citizens still liked them, and they were eventually disbanded in the 2000s for budgetary reasons. See the CPC’s report on mini-stations for more details.
Timeline of Key Reports & Recommendations
The timeline below summarizes the recommended reforms related to Community & Problem-Oriented Policing (CPOP) from the reports & documents that reviewed Cleveland police operations and encouraged reform. These are not the exact words from the text, but are summarized by our researchers as best as possible – highlighting key points and phrases.
- Consolidate mini-stations (17 stations in 1922). Criminal Justice in Cleveland first recommended mini-stations. (Criminal Justice in Cleveland) (Reorganization Police Department, Eliot Ness)
- Utilize more auto patrols, fewer foot patrols; increase traffic enforcement (Criminal Justice in Cleveland) (Reorganization Police Department, Eliot Ness)
- Establish special services bureau. The special services bureau should experiment in social services and pre-delinquency. They should liaison with community groups, schools and other agencies of social services and secure a degree of cooperation. (Criminal Justice in Cleveland)
- Utilize police automobiles and motorcycles to be more responsive to community calls for service (Criminal Justice in Cleveland)
- Introduction of traffic enforcement to address growing traffic safety problem (Reorganization Police Department, Eliot Ness)
- No highlights for this particular area. Please check back as our analysis continues.
- Analyze critical incidents involving police (Cleveland Little Hoover Commission)
- Utilize unarmed community service officers to respond to non violent concerns (entry level position) (The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society)
- Establish a citizen advisory committee (The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society), (Cleveland's Unfinished Business in its Inner City), (Kerner Commission)
- End sensationalism of crime by police; utilize facts only to inform community (The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society)
- Community must set standards for discretionary policing (The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society)
- Every police agency should establish programs that assist and encourage members of the public to take an active role in preventing crime (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Ensure that officers assigned to geographic policing programs meet regularly with persons who live or work in their area (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Supplement police with citizens reserves, who receive similar training to officers, to increase community involvement in policing (National Strategy to Reduce Crime)
- Improve relationship with minority communities to encourage recruitment; integrate black officers into the entire operation of the force (Cleveland's Unfinished Business in its Inner City)
- Address concerns of the growing Hispanic community (Policing in the Nineties), (1997 Strategic Report)
- Establish an open and receptive climate for minorities to work with officers and maintain minorities’ interest and investment in policing and safety (1997 Strategic Report)
- Employ mini-stations as neighborhood hubs, integrate them into the command structure (1997 Strategic Report)
- A detailed list of all reform efforts for this time period can be found in the Consent Decree. Read the Consent Decree here or click below to see all documents and recommendations in the 2000’s - present
Continuing the Research
The CPC’s research into the documented history of the Cleveland police is ongoing as part of the 100 Years Project. We will be looking further into the topic of CPOP by analyzing past recommendations concerning community policing, mini-stations, and police vehicles.
By looking into Cleveland’s past, the CPC aims to help the community gain a better understanding of what policing practices have been successful, what issues exist, and what lessons still need to be learned to move forward in creating a more sustainable policing model for the future. If you are an individual or organization interested in joining us in taking a deeper dive into this information, please contact us to get involved in expanding on this research.
100 Years Project: Explore by Decade or Topic
Read about key reform recommendations made by year, or learn about how each police reform issue area mandated by the 2015 Consent Decree compares to recommendations made in the past.